To all my friends reading this, I have an important story to share with you. One year ago, Lynsey (the wizard of Tune In Not Out fame) sent me an email about this up and coming organisation she’d heard about. It was the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, and they were taking applications for their Youth Brains Trust. In utter truth, I only gave it a casual glance. I wasn’t particularly enthused or hopeful about my chances, but figured it would be a cool opportunity to help shape research impacting on young people. As I started filling out the application form and writing about why I was interested in the wellbeing of young people, I started talking about my experiences with bullying in high school. To my amazement, I started crying quite uncontrollably. Never before had I realised how much I had suffered, and how much I wanted to prevent others from experiencing the shit that I went through. All of a sudden I discovered that youth education and wellbeing was something I truly cared about.
This past year I have done some great things. I was flown to Melbourne where I met most of the other members of the Youth Brains Trust. I was deeply impressed by how down to earth and yet how profoundly sensitive the staff were to the issues we as young people might have been experiencing. I met some truly remarkable people who have inspired and changed my life for the better, and I am deeply honoured to have spent such a good time in their wonderful company.
In terms of shaping research, I participated in a teleconference to help give feedback about a research report, sharing what my experiences of technology and wellbeing were in relation to other young men. ReachOut hosted a consultation on Suicide and Social Media through their tremendously supportive forums – I hold this as one of my most cherished memories in really making a difference by talking with other young people. I helped with the final feedback stages of the projects Keep it Tame, and the very amazing @ppreciate (which you might like to think of a Facebook filled with compliments and kindness rather than complaints and rudeness). I shared my perspective on challenging racism, as well as answering some questions about the YBT, mental health and technology. I was also on the verge of giving a presentation about the Young and Well CRC at an Australian Psychological Society conference until the time slot fell through at the last minute. Most recently I shared my story in a report about technology use among young men, and gave two interviews (to radio and newspaper) about the startling results that came from it.
Looking back, I can’t believe how much I’ve done and helped do since I joined the Trust in October last year. Much of it I had forgotten and only rediscovered when I trawled through my emails. I can’t help but wonder how much more I have done that I kept no record of, and has passed now beyond memory. As an experience, I consider my time with the Brains Trust rare, humbling, and life-changing.
And now the time has come for someone else to take the torch. A little part of me can’t help but feel attached to the Youth Brains Trust and everything it’s become while I’ve been part of it. Yet I am tremendously excited that twenty more young people get the chance to do what I’ve done, to do more than what I’ve done in their own wonderfully unique way. My year of active participation may be concluding, but for another group of people who are passionate for their own fantastic reasons and in their own wonderful ways, an amazing journey is about to begin. And who knows – you may just be one of them!
Hit up the website to submit an application. All the best for the near year, future Brain Trust goers!